James J. Romano, MD
This needs to be individualized with proper goals in mind. It must incorporate into your lifestyle and be a permanent state of mind. We do not subscribe to fad diets or quick-fix medications. High-calorie diets and improper foods in improper quantities can have one of the most severe detrimental effects on your body and accelerate aging more than any other single factor. The need for excessive work and energy expenditure of every cell and organ and system in your body to handle high-calorie diets is a very rapid aging process. Our dietary consultants and our recommendations are very similar to the Zone and Atkins diets. Don’t judge these on whether you can lose weight rapidly or not as much as in their value for physiological nutritional balance in your body and longevity. Consider:
- 1,500 calories per day. Although this is extreme, the concept of less caloric intake allows the body to function better with less stress since all the energy and work is not being spent on digestion. You live longer and age less.
- Balance of intake of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Reduce saturated fat intake and avoid processed carbohydrates, especially sugar, bread, bagels, pasta, and rice. Simple carbohydrates like vegetables and some fruits are better and go towards energy and protein formation, not fat.
- Emphasize what you eat for the nutrients you need. More and more processed foods have less and less nutrients. Fresh fruits and vegetables two to three servings a day are important for supplying these ever-vanishing nutrients.
- Do not do other things when you eat. Consider this is a sacred time, and sit down and take at least twenty minutes to eat. Consciously chew food slowly and about 20 to 40 times with each bite. This will become second nature in no time. This aids in digestion and increases satiety and sense of fullness so you actually eat less and better and more efficiently absorb what you eat.
- Decrease salt intake.
- Avoid artificial anything, but especially sweeteners. Your body does not recognize these substances or know how to use them. Better to use sugar and butter in small amounts.
- Read the nutritional information on the label of everything you eat.
- Read Get the Sugar Out By Ann Louise Gittleman.
The Problems With Carbohydrates: Myths and Truths
The main source of energy in our body is carbohydrates. In the early 1980s a Canadian group devised a system for ranking carbohydrates on a scale of 1 to 100. This is based on how quickly the body converts carbohydrates to glucose, which is reflected in how fast the blood glucose rises and how fast insulin is released. Rapid increases in blood glucose are very bad for the body. For example, whole grains contain lots of fiber and rank low on the scale, whereas starchy foods with little or no fiber rank extremely high. Potatoes rate 93 while fiber-rich beans rate 27. This ranking system has become known as the glycemic index, with unfavorable (high glycemic index) and favorable (low glycemic index) carbohydrates respectively.
Research at the Harvard School of Public Health studied 65,000 nurses and found that women who ate little fiber and many high-glycemic-index carbohydrates (pasta, bread, rice) were 2.5 times more likely to develop diabetes than those who ate less of these foods. Additionally, epidemiologist Simin Liu, also at Harvard, noted that women whose diet included the mostly high-glycemic-index carbohydrates doubled their risk of heart attack, even more so than eating saturated fats. Another study of 1,400 middle-aged adults found that people who ate sweet, starchy foods had the lowest levels of HDL (good cholesterol), a condition known to increase the risk of heart attacks. Carbohydrates make you gain weight and get fat. They also retain water and make you bloated. In summary, all this is not so much related to the carbohydrate alone, as it is to our body’s inability to process higher insulin levels produced by the rapid rise in this glucose. Increased intake of unfavorable carbohydrates leads to insulin resistance, which leads to diabetes and increased risk of heart attack, not to mention weight gain.
Many of these progressive ideas came from Canada and Australia, but American dieticians, government agencies, and food manufacturers have been slow to responded and have, for mostly economic reasons, resisted this information. It is very likely that in the future you will the surgeon general declare that cutting back on potatoes, bread, rice, and pasta will be very beneficial for your health.
FAVORABLE CARBOHYDRATES (LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX)
Better to eat these:
Green vegetables, small “new” potatoes, most fresh fruit, sweet potatoes, high-fiber cereals, semolina pasta, whole-grain breads, basmati rice, nuts
UNFAVORABLE CARBOHYDRATES (HIGH GLYCEMIC INDEX)
Try to avoid these, but if you must, eat very little:
White potatoes, cakes, candy, white bread, rice, pasta, cereals, oatmeal cookies, bagels, muffins, bananas, donuts, carrots
- Water is the single most important catalyst in losing weight and keeping it off. Water is key to more effective mobilization and metabolism of stored fat.
- Water naturally suppresses the appetite.
- Water helps the body metabolize stored fat. Studies have shown that a decrease in water intake will cause fat storage to increase while an increase in water intake can reduce fat storage. The liver functions to mobilize stored fat. If you are not drinking enough water, the kidneys are not functioning optimally, and this causes the liver to work harder to detoxify, and it functions less at mobilizing fat.
- Drinking water is the best treatment for fluid retention. By expanding and increasing your intravascular volume, the extra water is eliminated. If you tend to swell and retain fluid, you may have a sodium retention problem. Diuretics provide only a temporary solution.
- Water helps maintain proper muscle tone by aiding in contracting and avoiding dehydration.
- Water removes body waste. During weight loss, the body has a lot more fat-byproduct waste to get rid of. Adequate water helps flush out this extra toxic waste.
- Water promotes intestinal evacuation and prevents constipation.
- You should drink eight 8-ounce glasses every day. This is about two quarts. If you are a heavier size, then you will need more water.
Don’t think of this just as a means to lose weight, which it affects the least. It is mostly beneficial in protecting the heart, strengthening bones, improving sleep and memory, reducing cancer risk, and retaining muscle mass.
- Obtain a consultation from a personal trainer to know what exercises to do, and develop a program that is safe and fun and will not harm your body.
- Exercise at least 20 minutes a day with the endpoint of raising your heartbeat (breaking into a sweat).